Car dealerships are among the most competitive businesses in the world.
The 2.2% of total sales that represent pre-tax profits is a full percentage point below most other retail industries. This creates fierce advertising battles that drive the automotive industry ad spend in the U.S. to over $14B per year - more than what’s spent in almost any other industry.
Think about that for a second: Automotive dealerships spend more money for a lower profit margin.
Low profit margins mean dealers cannot simply increase ad spend and expect to significantly increase profits. Rather, they’re challenged with finding ways to make their existing ad spend more effective.
Historically this has been a very challenging task, but the rise of Artificial Intelligence has given dealerships the capability to transform the automotive advertising industry. This new wave of technology can help dealerships increase marketing effectiveness through smart ad testing and optimization.
Our powerful video-testing and analytics platform, Dumbstruck, gives dealerships and their agencies the power to see exactly how target demographics respond to each moment of a commercial before it airs - and then shape how viewers respond by optimizing easily editable aspects of the commercial.
We decided to use our technology to analyze a common feature of auto commercials - voiceovers - to see how different voiceover styles affect how viewers respond to an automotive ad. Does one gender or age group respond more positively to a specific voiceover style than another?  If so,  is it possible to increase sales by optimizing the voiceovers you use in your ads?

The Role of Voiceovers in Television Commercials

Voiceovers are a common feature of television ads across all industries.They can be used to strategically communicate informational messages, boost the credibility of an ad/brand, and even increase an ad’s persuasiveness.


Communicate Informational Messages
TV commercials that aim to communicate informational messages are consistently more effective when they include voiceovers. For example, a company in China tested an ad for a new cookie that was soon to be launched. Much to their surprise, they found that the intended message only registered with 34% of people (a full 21% below the standard). A change to the voiceover completely changed the effectiveness of the ad, resulting in the intended message registering with 61% of people.


Boost Credibility
Research on political campaign ads has shown that females typically find ads with female voiceovers more credible than ads featuring male voiceovers. Similarly, female voiceovers boost the credibility of the overall ad when the issue of the ad is considered “feminine” (e.g. healthcare and education vs. oil dependence and Wall Street).


Research firm Millward Brown has found that TV commercials that use voiceovers are more persuasive than commercials that do not use voiceovers. A large test on a deodorant ad saw the ad’s persuasive strength increase from low to high after a voiceover was added.


The Role of Voiceovers in Dealership Commercials

While voiceovers are an important part of any commercial they’re used in, our research team hypothesized that they play an even more important role in car dealership ads. The reason is simple: two of the most common types of dealer commercials are the information-based promo commercial and the dealer personality commercial.
Information-Based Promo
The information-based promo commercial focuses on the details of a promotion: “48 hour Memorial Day sale,” “all 2017 Wranglers on sale,” etc. These commercials live and die by their ability to effectively communicate informational messages. As discussed above, voiceovers play a critical role in the communication of informational messages.
Dealer Personality
The dealer personality commercial focuses on the personality of the owner and/or head of the dealership. Some will even focus on the entire family of the owner. These commercials typically live and die by how credible and persuasive viewers perceive the personality to be. As discussed above, voiceovers play a critical role in the credibility and persuasiveness of a commercial.
We decided to put our hypothesis to the test and determine whether voiceovers really do play a crucial role in auto commercials.   

Test Overview and Details

Our team quickly produced two information-based promo commercials, each having the same stock footage, text, animations, design, background music, script, and voiceover narrator. The only difference is that the voiceover style is unique for each video:
Video A has a loud, over-the-top voiceover
Video B has a mellow, calm voiceover

Target Demographics
Next we uploaded the videos to the Dumbstruck platform and selected the target demographics for the test. Dumbstruck has a built-in panel of 50,000 participants in the United States and almost a 1,000,000 worldwide - making it easy to test an ad with the actual audience the ad is intended for.
We decided to focus on a group of 100 people between the ages of 18 and 44, evenly split between male and female. This enabled us to remove the possibility of false positives based on major age differences of more than 26 years. This made it easier for us to clearly define what test results would qualify as successfully proving or disproving that voiceover style impacts viewer response.
Potential Results
We defined three general types of results that we might get back from the test and the expected data patterns that would need to be present in order to confirm each:
Additional Details 
Number of Participants: 100 (50 for Video A; 50 for Video B)
Gender: 50% Female | 50% Male
Age: Under 45
Geographic Location: United States of America


The graphs used in this section of the report come from the Dumbstruck Dashboard. They show the overall Mood expressed by participants over the course of each video. Video A is represented by a solid green line and Video B is represented by a dashed green line. The Mood lines display viewer positivity (above the baseline) and negativity (below the baseline). Mood is used to identify emotional engagement, cognitive engagement, brand recall, association with the brand, and intent to purchase.

Females Under the Age of 45

Females under the age of 45 had a very positive response to Video A and a negative to neutral response to Video B.


Females Under the Age of 45.png


Video A

The Female response to Video A is the most positive response by either of the demographic groups that took part in this test. Females start with a fairly neutral response which - excluding a brief valley - starts to gradually rise at approximately the 5s mark. This rise in Mood continues until approximately the 16s mark at which point Mood stabilizes until the 27s mark when it reaches its highest peak of the entire video.
These results strongly indicate the following:



Video B 

The Female response to Video B is very similar to the Female response to Video A over the course of the first 12 seconds. At that point, however, Video A continues to rise while Video B begins to fall. At the 17s mark, Video B reaches its lowest point. From there, Video B begins a consistent rise that lasts until the end of the video.
These results strongly indicate the following:




Males Under the Age of 45

Males under the age of 45 had a very negative response to Video A and a slightly negative response to Video B.

Males Under the Age of 45.png


Video A

The Video A Mood line forms a consistent downward slope from the start of the video all the way to the end. These results strongly indicate the following:




Video B

The Video B Mood line consistently rises from the 5s mark to the 16s mark of the video. The Mood line then falls from the 16s mark to approximately the 25s mark before rising again over the rest of the video. The Video B Mood line is consistently above the Video A Mood line for almost the entire video.
These results strongly indicate the following:





The table below displays two data patterns that were present in the test results. Prior to the test, we identified that these data patterns needed to be present in order to confirm that voiceover style impacts viewer response. Thus we can confidently say that voiceover style has a significant impact on how viewers respond to car commercials.


The different effectiveness levels of Video A and Video B - displayed in the table below - further supports the above claim that the change in voiceover style significantly impacts viewer responses.
If we were running these commercials for a real campaign, we would be able to use these results to help us better strategize the ad content and media placement. For example, we could easily adjust the voiceover style to better fit what our target audience prefers, or we could leverage our insight in our media planning - helping us to get the right commercial in front of the right audience. Both of these strategies would maximize our budget and increase our campaign’s effectiveness - all because we simply tested the voiceover style.




Auto trends:

Voiceovers in ads:

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